Three weeks after the storybook season - the CIF State Bowl championship, the No. 7 national ranking, the state-record 85 touchdowns accounted for - Folsom (Calif.)
High School senior Dano Graves
was still in a mist.
"It still is very surreal," Graves said Sunday night. "It still hasn't all sunk in."
Here's a little more to sink into.
Graves today has been named the U.S. Air Force National Player of the Year presented by MaxPreps.
Dano Graves National Player of the Year photo gallery
The undersized 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior quarterback beat out a long list of highly recruited, superbly credentialed stars throughout the land by stamping a monster season with back-to-back six-touchdown performances against nationally ranked opponents.
He completed 236 of 363 passes for 3,702 yards and 62 touchdowns, with just six interceptions. Impressive numbers on their own. But the ever-elusive, athletic and determined standout was just as impressive as a runner, rushing for 994 yards and 23 touchdowns.
This came on the heels of a 4,756-total-yard, 66-touchdown junior campaign, meaning Graves accounted for a staggering 9,452 yards and 128 touchdowns over two seasons against many of Northern California's top competition.
The Bulldogs went 25-3 in that span, including 14-1 in 2010.
"I've known the kid since he was in Kindergarten," said Folsom coach Kris Richardson. "He never ceases to amaze me. From his athleticism to leadership to competitive nature to just being a great kid, I've run out of superlatives."
Leave that up to more impartial sorts or even combatants.
Like Grant (Sacramento, Calif.)
coach Mike Alberghini, after Graves burned his then No. 8 nationally ranked Pacers for 418 of Folsom's 506 yards and accounted for six touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 41-20 Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 title game win before more than 20,000 fans at Sacramento State University.
Grant's defense featured five probable Division I talents, including all-american lineman Viliami Moala
. Grant had allowed eight points per game going into the contest.
"Teams don't score six touchdowns on us, and he did it all by himself," Alberghini told the Sacramento Bee. "In all my years, Graves was the hardest to prepare for, the best we've ever faced, without a doubt. I don't know if we'll ever see a Dano again." Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
coach Scott Altenberg most certainly wants no part of another Dano. His team, with at least a half-dozen Division I prospects, came in the CIF Division 2 State Bowl game against Folsom ranked 18th in the country. But the Cavaliers were also done in by Graves, who in a driving rain threw for three scores and ran for three more during a 41-20 defeat.
"He was electric on film and even better in person," Altenberg said. "He was fantastic. His arm strength was impressive but it was his elusiveness that hurt us. Normally we get all over quarterbacks with our speed and athleticism, but we couldn't get to him. He's a great competitor."
Indeed, beyond all the numbers, Graves' leadership is beyond reproach. When Grant smacked Folsom 49-14 to start the season in front of a nationally televised audience, Graves didn't flinch.
"We definitely were shell-shocked. We'd never been beaten like that before and most of us had played together since we were 8 years old," Graves said. "We knew we were better than that. We just went back to work. Our entire goal was to see Grant again." Continue reading